This School District In Texas May Create Its Own Police Force (HBO)

JJ Strong has been a cop at Round Rock High, near Austin, for the past four years. His job involves roaming the halls on the lookout for kids causing trouble, whether it be getting in fights, smoking weed, or just generally being up to no good. And all the while, he’s constantly thinking about what he’d do if someone burst into the school with a gun.

“That’s always in the back of your mind,” Strong told VICE News, during his rounds one day last month. “Because if you’re not prepared, if you haven’t thought of a game plan, you’re not going to know what to do.”

In the year since the shooting at Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High, schools around the country have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep their students safe. Some have installed hi-tech equipment and bulletproof windows. Others have encouraged their teachers to carry their own firearms. But the most fundamental aspect of school safety remains the most traditional: School police.

And now, some changes are coming.

Officer Strong is what’s known as a school resource officer, or SRO, a part of a program that dates to the 1950s, which has grown rapidly over the past few years. These days, it’s getting an overhaul: The Round Rock school district is among those considering trading their SRO program in for a self-contained, in-house police department, something 248 other districts in the state have already done — 34 in the last year alone.

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Lyndon Larouche: The Conspiracy Theorist Who Ran For President 8 Times (HBO)

Larouche never managed to have an impact on American policy but his legacy lives on, in the generation of semi-messianic conspiracy theorists

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She Lost Her Daughter In Parkland. Now, She’s Fighting For School Safety. (HBO)

A year ago, Lori Alhadeff was a soccer mom with three kids in the Parkland, Florida public schools.

But on February 14, that simple life was shattered in a hail of bullets fired by a school shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high School. Lori’s daughter, Alyssa, was among the 17 who died that day.

The year after has been one of pain and healing and hope for Lori. She became the face of anguish when a CNN camera captured her grief and the clip went viral. Now she’s trying to become the face of school safety as an advocate and elected member of the Broward County School Board.

Across the country, schools are still trying to figure out how to prevent the next parkland. Bills have been passed, experts have weighed in. School boards like the one in Broward are still making changes. VICE News follows Lori as she tries to make school safety a public priority.

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Denver’s Public School Teachers Are Revolting Against Merit Pay (HBO)

But Denver’s union is the first to strike over merit pay for teachers. Denver was one of the first cities in the country to introduce, in 2005, a system of bonuses and incentives tied to teacher performance and other metrics. But teachers say the system, known as ProComp, soon became an excuse for the district to pay them less to begin with, causing their salaries to stagnate when compared with Denver’s fast-rising cost of living.

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El Chapo Has Been Found Guilty. Here’s What Happens Next. (HBO)

After nearly three months of drama and intrigue, the epic trial of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán ended Tuesday when the jury delivered a unanimous guilty verdict on all 10 counts of the Sinaloa cartel leader’s federal indictment.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for six days before convicting the 61-year-old Mexican drug kingpin on a litany of charges related to drug smuggling, murder, money laundering, and weapons possession. He now faces a mandatory sentence of life in U.S. federal prison with no chance for parole.

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Inside Steve Bannon’s Town Hall For A Privately Funded Border Wall (HBO)

While President Trump continued to battle with Congress over funding for building the border wall with Mexico, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon was out in Arizona to back a do-it-yourself approach.

Once the planet’s most powerful political strategist with access to the Oval Office, Bannon is now raising money to fulfill Trump’s signature campaign promise. On Friday he headlined an event at the banquet hall of a retirement community in Arizona to raise private funds for a border wall — made out of hemp. So far the project has raised an astonishing $22 million from small donors in just over a month.

He wants the wall to be technologically state-of-the-art. “I’m obsessed with the hempcrete,” Bannon said, referring to a concrete-like construction material made from hemp. “I think this plant has got tremendous entrepreneurial aspects to it and it’s innovation. We’re not sitting there saying, ‘Hey, just a concrete wall or just a steel barrier.’ It has to be advanced technology.”

VICE News joined Bannon and the team behind ‘We Build the Wall’ to learn how they plan to side-step Washington and build their own wall.

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Serbia Is Becoming Increasingly Dangerous For Journalists And The Opposition (HBO)

Weekly protests in Serbia, against state-sanctioned political violence and a crackdown on media freedoms, are about to enter their third month. VICE News meets a Serbian journalist who recently survived an assassination attempt to hear how being a journalist and/or critic of the government has become more dangerous under president Vucic’s regime.

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The Legal Race Around Abortion Rights In America (HBO)

It’s the first opportunity for the two newest justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to participate in a decision that would send a powerful message to state lawmakers – about whether or not this more conservative Supreme Court will uphold abortion rights precedent going forward. VICE News looks at the shifting strategies at the state and federal level as legislators and litigators prepare for the possibility that Roe v. Wade could actually be overturned.

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Trump’s Biggest Enemy In The Courts Gave The Spanish State Of The Union Response (HBO)

Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, was an obvious choice to deliver the Democratic Party’s Spanish-language response to the State of the Union address. He’s the child of Mexican immigrants. He represented a heavily Latino district in Los Angeles during his 24 years in congress.

And as attorney general of the most populous state in the union, Becerra has already sued the Trump administration 45 times to block some of its biggest moves on healthcare, the environment, and, most importantly, immigration.

Trump’s address — in spite of its gestures toward reconciliation — repeated the same message on immigration he’s been delivering since his campaign. That set Becerra up to draw a sharp contrast between Trump and the Democrats for the potential Latino voters watching live on Telemundo and Univision.

“Tonight was supposed to be about convincing us that, from here on out, the deceit and dysfunction would stop, and that cooperation would begin,” Becerra said in his speech. “What we heard was the same tired refrain of building walls.”

But distinguishing the Democratic Party from Trump “isn’t tough,” as Becerra told VICE News. Much harder is reconciling the profound divisions that exist on immigration within the Democratic party — between a newly ascendant left wing that’s turned “Abolish ICE” into a slogan, and an establishment that has for decades played an active role in dramatically expanding the immigration enforcement system.

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The Long, Painful Legacy Of Blackface In America (HBO)

Ralph Northam is still the governor of Virginia—for now. But he’s facing increasing pressure to resign after a conservative media site unearthed a photo of a man in blackface on Northam’s page in a 1984 medical school yearbook.

Northam insists it isn’t him in the photo. And the New York Times today reported that a group of his medical school classmates is standing behind him. “We fully believe Governor Ralph Northam is neither of the individuals in those repugnant costumes,” they wrote in a letter. “We attended classes with the Governor. We socialized with him. We knew him very well.”

But even if Northam can prove he isn’t in the photo, there’s another problem: In a press conference on Saturday, Northam admitted he had “darkened” his face for fun around the same time. “That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume,” he said. “I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.”

Northam may not have understood that “harmful legacy” back in the 80’s—plenty of people didn’t. In fact, many still don’t understand it now.

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